After all these years, Groundsheep Day just doesn't have the same spark to us. Maybe Scott and I are just getting old. Maybe Shearson has humiliated us every February 2nd in so many ways that there's nothing he can do to annoy us anymore. Sigh...the thrill is gone.
Anyway, this cold morning we got up early and took Shearson outside for the annual ritual, without much enthusiasm. Let's just get this over with.
Suddenly, we were attacked! It happened so fast that we never saw their faces, or even made out their voices clearly. Honestly, they just seemed to bleat a lot. We were tied up, blindfolded, stuffed into sacks and tossed in the back of a waiting van.
A little while later, we found ourselves in the middle of an enormous bunkroom, along with a lot of other people dressed in green and with identifying numbers on our shirts.
A voice came over the P.A. system. We were all to serve as participants in a very unusual type of sporting activity, called "Sheep Game". There would be several rounds. Losers in each round would be eliminated and sent back to their regular lives, quote, "the same way humans send sheep back to the meadow each spring." Hmm, wonder what that means? Whoever survived every round, however, would take home the grand prize worth...(*gasp*)...one billion South Korean jeons! Wow!!
Oh, and we learned that the games were being overseen by a mysterious, sinister figure called the Front Ram, who always kept his identity hidden behind a mask.
Looks vaguely familiar. Might be Putin.
We were led to an enormous arena guarded by a bunch of those weird hot pink jumpsuit dudes. The first test of skill for everyone would be....chess. Scott and I would face the Front Ram himself. Well, heck, this should work out well for us. I played chess in high school, and Scott knows the game too. And, we even drew the white pieces.
But, uh, as it turned out, the Front Ram was pretty good. Or we were pretty bad. Or maybe both.
So, yeah, we got clobbered, but a lot of other contestants must have done even worse. We survived the round while half the field was eliminated. They were taken out through those funny doors behind us. We could hear some moaning and cursing back there, plus an odd buzzing noise. That was a bit ominous.
Round two was Jenga, using the enormous outdoor blocks you sometimes see. We were paired against the Front Ram again. This should be a piece of cake -- he's maybe ten inches tall.
Curses! Who is this fiend, this master of disguise?? Round after round, game after game, we fell victim to his cunning genius.
It was a brutal, humiliating morning. We lost to the Front Ram at Risk, polo, tiddlywinks, archery, kick the can, curling, synchronized swimming, geocaching, Trivial Pursuit, and H-O-R-S-E. Er, S-H-E-E-P. But, no matter how bad we did, some other team always did worse, so we kept advancing. We made it to the very last round, where we had to solve one final diabolical challenge in order to win.
We got it right on the second try! Music blared, lights flashed, and we were declared the Champions of Sheep Game! Phew -- that was an ordeal, but one billion jeons would buy a lot of Tylenol.
They took us back to the bunkroom to collect our stuff, but along the way, the Front Ram decided that we, too, should get to enjoy the whole sheep-back-to-meadow experience.
Hmph. Well, it'll grow back. Besides, it was time to collect our prize. The fabled Front Ram strolled into the room and explained the payout.
So, it turns out that a jeon is the South Korean equivalent of our penny. Meh, a billion pennies will buy plenty. There are 100 jeons to a won, and at the current exchange rate, one dollar was worth, uh, 1207 wons. That meant a billion jeons was $8280. And, that was the 30-year annuity amount. The lump sum was about half of that. Then there were federal taxes, social security taxes, state taxes, local taxes, and some weird thing called a Groundsheep Day Equity Tax. Also, as per the official rules of Sheep Game, the winners were responsible for certain expenses, like the rental of the arena and the salaries of all those deranged pink-suited guys with the Uzis. Plus, gas money to and from our house.
Add, subtract, carry the one, and after all was said and done, Scott and I learned that we would split....
...THREE DOLLARS AND FIFTY-TWO CENTS????
Ahem. Pardon us, Tom, but we have to run. We're going to have words with a certain 'Front Ram'. The little rat can't stay up in that tree all day. On the bright side, there's no way he can see his shadow from up there, so I guess that means we're going to have an early Spring. Oh, and Netflix called -- they think that "Sheep Game" would be a huge streaming hit, and they want to buy the rights from us. They offered us three million jeons. We're chasing their CEO up a tree tomorrow.
Until next year,
Nick, Scott & Shearson
With our thanks to the third resident of our household for taking a ton of pictures this year. As usual, she's threatened us with a treeing if we include her name. Also, do NOT ask what seven tiles she arranged in Shearson's rack in the Scrabble picture, to express her pleasure with this annual task. I'd have included the photo, but Groundsheep Day is a PG-rated activity.